From show creator/writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the Netflix original series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), the magical 16-year-old half-witch/half-mortal who feels conflicted about both sides of her nature. While Sabrina is on her own personal journey of discovering what she stands for and where she belongs, her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto), warlock cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), high priest Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), the Devil’s handmaiden Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez), human boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch), and even her familiar, Salem the cat, are each trying to influence her, in their own way.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Lucy Davis talked about how she came to be a part of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, what she was told about the series, in the beginning, what gets them to say “Hail Satan!” on set, the horror movies that have made a big impression on her, the fun girl vibe on set, what she tried to do in each scene that she had with Michelle Gomez, and what she’d still like to see from Hilda.
Collider: I absolutely love this show!
LUCY DAVIS: Cool! There’s nothing funnier than putting a child’s head in an oven.
How did you come to be a part of this, and how was this series pitched to you?
DAVIS: In December of last year, I was sent only a Hilda scene, and not a script or anything. I really liked the scene on its own, which I always think is a good sign of anything, if you can just read a few lines and already like how something is written. Obviously, that doesn’t always happen. So, I went in, and I didn’t read with (showrunner) Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa]. I met with Lee Toland Krieger, who directed the two first episodes, and he’s our executive producer. Then, honestly, I put it out of my head because I never, in a million years, thought that I would be right for the role. I don’t know why I didn’t. I’m exactly like Hilda, but for some reason, and I don’t know why, I just thought that I wasn’t.
You go in and you do your best thing, but then I came out and let it go, which is probably the key to getting things that you want. And then, about the second week of January, my manager called and said, “You’re still their choice for Hilda.” I went, “I’m their choice?!” I didn’t expect that, in a million years, but then, of course, I suddenly started really wanting it. I went back in to meet Roberto because he wanted to meet before anyone was offered a role. I think they wanted to wait and see who they were going to get for Zelda because it’s so important that Hilda and Zelda have good chemistry and gel with each other.
So, I waited quite awhile, but then I was offered it and I was excited, to be honest with you. I was excited to see what Vancouver was like. I was excited to get to do two seasons. I was excited because it was Netflix. I was excited to spend nine months of the year going to work, every day. You don’t get that often, as an actor. I certainly haven’t. I was really honored, on a lot of accounts, to be a part of this.
Had you been aware of the original series and how very different that was from this, and were they pretty clear about what the tone of this would be?
DAVIS: Yes, they were. When I did my audition, they weren’t really saying much about it, but they said, “This isn’t like the 90s show,” which I had watched and enjoyed. They also said, “This is different and darker.” Otherwise, no one really spoke about it, so I just did whatever I needed to do to read that scene. I read a scene in Episode 1, where I’m talking to Sabrina. She’s in bed and I start talking about when I signed the Book of the Beast when I was a girl, and how there weren’t really options. So, I wasn’t told much about the series ahead of time, but the words themselves seemed quite dramatic. The words were so great, and Roberto is such a wonderful wordsmith, and of course, as you probably know, a playwright. The words speak for themselves. You don’t have to add bells and whistles to them. There was just so much I loved about it, truly.
When you’re doing scenes and talking about things like the Book of the Beast and the Dark Lord, and you’re saying, “Praise Satan!,” do you ever have to keep from having a little a bit of a laugh about all of it?
DAVIS: Sometimes, for sure, yeah. We’ve got a great crew, as well, and whenever someone sneezes on set, everyone yells, “Hail Satan!” That’s second nature now that we do it. We forget that there might be some people out there who don’t particularly use the word Satan. Though, as I say, I’m a vegetarian and Seitan is my preferred choices of non-meat. Really, I’m just saying, “Hail soy protein!” I’m not religious, so I don’t have any connotations with the word Satan. I just find it all fun.